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The Festival of Mexico's 'City of Open Doors'

Posted Thursday 16 November 2017 by Jo Duncombe in Festival Reports, General, Training & Conferences

Since 2003, Mexico's Morelia International Film Festival (FICM) has become a unique meeting point for the country's cinematographic community, the people of the state of Michoacán and international filmmakers; promoting new Mexican talent and immeasurably enhancing the cultural life of the state. Ahead of our upcoming Developing Your Film Festival course, ICO Film Programmer Jo Duncombe was delighted to visit Morelia, one of the country's most beautiful, historic and artistically vibrant cities, to take part in the festival's 15th edition earlier this autumn.

Morelia Film Festival
An audience gathering before a screening in Morelia's beautiful main square

Four hours by bus north west from the centre of Mexico City is the town of Morelia, Michoacán. Far from the dense and frenetic metropolis of CDMX, Morelia’s cool mountainous air and elegant boulevards are a welcome tonic for the stresses of urban sprawl. But do not be fooled by Morelia’s relaxing charms. Beneath the beauty of the town’s grand and impressive colonial architecture is a historical spirit of humanism, liberty, action and openness. The town is named after José María Morelos – a revolutionary rebel leader who led the Mexican War of Independence movement. Morelos’ campaign called for the abolition of slavery, racial equality and a fairer distribution of wealth and power, favouring the poor over church and state.

Of Morelia’s many nick-names (including 'the Rose of the Winds', in reference to the pink rock of the surrounding Guayangareo Valley), 'the City of Open Doors' is perhaps the most apt. It's a sentiment befitting of a town which for the last 15 years has played host to Mexico’s leading festival of national and international cinema. The Festival Internacional De Cine De Morelia (FICM) takes over the town for ten days each October, welcoming large local audiences and guests from around the world to showcase the very best of new and archive Mexican film, alongside a smaller programme of international titles. Special guests at this year’s festival included Mexican cinematic superstars Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, and filmmakers Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water), Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and Carlos Reygadas (who is currently shooting his new feature Where Life Is Born). International guests included Al Gore, Michel Hazanavicius, Bob Rafelson (whose Five Easy Pieces was presented in full restored glory by Criterion), Barbet Schroeder and Cristian Mungiu.

Morelia Film Festival
L-R: Carlos Reygadas, Bob Rafelson and Cristian Mungiu

Despite this high profile hospitality, the festival never loses sight of its cultural and social importance on the ground. Local crowds are numerous in the town’s Cinépolis (a giant multiplex chain, founded in Morelia – of which Alejandro Ramirez Magana, president of the festival, is CEO) and the festival works with local schools and community groups to ensure the programme of films is accessible to all.

The town’s generosity and openness is reflected in a festival programme that aims to champion new and diverse talent from all professional avenues of the industry. Each foreword in the festival’s brochure references an ethos of celebrating new energies, talents and ideas, particularly from Mexico. Alfonso Martinez Alcazar, the Mayor of Morelia, says that “FCIM serves as a showcase for young filmmakers to break into this great profession that stimulates the senses and transports us all." The festival has a special programme dedicated to emerging talent from the state of Michoacán, “Hecho en Michoacán” and a sexual diversity programme, now in its 2nd year, comprising new Mexican shorts themed around sexuality, programmed in collaboration with XPOSED: Queer Film Festival Berlin. Charles Tesson, director of the Critics’ Week at Cannes Film Festival also presents a “Worlds & Journeys” selection, which is replayed each year on the Riviera with a spotlight on Mexican shorts presented by FICM.

Viva Zapata!
Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata! (1952)

Retrospectives & Mexican classics

This year, there was a special programme From Mexico to Hollywood to The Oscars© which aimed to highlight the contributions of Mexican filmmakers and artists to Hollywood & Oscar© history. Titles included William Wyler’s The Heiress (1949), for which set director Emile Kuri was one of the first Mexican-born Oscar© recipients, and Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata! (1952), which  tells the story of a young peasant from the state of Morelos and stars Marlon Brando and Jean Peters. Co-star Anthony Quinn was the first Mexican-born star to win the Oscar© for Best Actor in 1953. Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan's Labyrinth (2006) were among the more recent titles on the programme. These classics were shown for free in the town’s beautiful open air plaza and attended by hundreds of locals and festival guests.

Other Mexican classics in the “Cinematográfica Marte” programme aimed to explore the new wave of state funded Mexican productions in the 1960s and 1970s, defined by their maverick, auteur approach to film craft. Patsy Mi Amor (1969) and Paraíso (1969) were two stand-outs.

New work

Whilst the festival affectionately celebrates the heritage of Mexican filmmaking, its programme is unreservedly forward-looking. New talent is spotlighted at FICM not only through a large portion of the scheduled programme, but also by the festival’s “Ojo” awards which place a heavy emphasis on rewarding ambition and talent with practical access to equipment, mentoring and advice.

Chavela
Chavela, by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi

Documentary

I was struck by new works, particularly in the documentary strand, which aimed to interrogate, re-assess and reframe Mexican identities on a global stage. Notably, nearly all of the award-winning documentaries at the festival were directed by women, and told the stories of women whose lives have been impacted by political posturing and corruption in both Mexico and the US. Daniela Rea Gómez’s No Sucumbió La Eternidad (Eternity Never Surrendered) provides a painful portrait of two Mexican women awaiting their missing ones; Liliana,who lost her husband to organised crime in 2010, and Alicia, whose mother disappeared to the Mexican State during the country's Dirty War. Artemio, by Sandra Luz López Barroso tells the story of a young boy who was born in US and lives in a small town in Guerrero with his mother and his new family. Chavela, directed by Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi,was another stand-out, offering an evocative and lyrical portrait of artist and performer Chavela Vargas.

Fiction

The fiction strand also offered many fascinating insights into Mexican cultural history, with numerous titles reclaiming narratives that have been neglected or misrepresented. The festival’s Audience Award for Best Fiction Feature went to Los Adioses (The Eternal Feminine) by Natalia Beristáin, a film depicting the life of the famous Mexican poet Rosario Castellano who, in the early 1950s in Mexico City, fought to have her voice heard in a society run by, and for, men. And Sueño en Otro Idioma (I Dream in Another Language) by Ernesto Contreras was a beautiful depiction of Mexico’s fading linguistic tapestry – telling the story of two elderly men, the last two remaining speakers of the Zikril language.

Impulso Morelia

The encouragement of new talent at FICM is further extended by its Impulso Lab – a workshop spotlighting 5 films in development by Mexican directors. The Lab aims to offer Mexican filmmakers a unique space for international visibility, based on a fruitful exchange of ideas among professionals from the global film scene. Each of the participating filmmakers were remarkably generous in sharing their work and brave to open themselves up, during the creative process, to feedback, ideas and questions from strangers. La Negrada, a feature about the Afro-Mexican community by first-time filmmaker Jorge Pérez Solano, won two awards (from Tribeca Film Institute and Impulso Morelia) for post-production support.

La Negrada
Double award-winner La Negrada by first-time filmmaker Jorge Pérez Solano

Locarno Industry Lab

The festival’s talent development programme isn't limited to filmmakers. Each year, FICM collaborates with Locarno Film Festival to run a workshop for young professionals working in Latin-American independent film. This year, there were 8 professionals working or developing their own distribution & exhibition projects, film festival programming and alternative distribution. I took part in a panel discussion on How to Improve Circulation of Indie Films with Renato Galamba (Figa Films) and Michelle Hamada (Tribeca Film Institute). It was fascinating to explore cultural differences and similarities across the industry and share best practice and learnings.

Morelia welcomes all guests with open arms. There is a very particular energy of excitement, innovation and openness running through the town and the festival. In this spirit, we hosted a drinks reception for film festival professionals to promote the launch of our upcoming training programme Developing Your Film Festival and were excited by the many talented and interesting people we met. Morelia creates a fantastic environment for the exchange of ideas, both on screen and off, and it is one we hope to share and discuss with participants on the course next year.

Gracias Morelia!

How to build a community cinema from scratch in the 21st century

Posted Thursday 9 November 2017 by Laura Davis in Cinema Careers, General

Deptford Cinema opened in 2014. Since then it has won multiple awards and boast some of London’s finest repertory cinema while remaining an affordable hang-out spot for its local community. How did they do it? Volunteer Laura Davis explains.

Deptford Cinema

Hand-held drills and paintbrushes: begin at the beginning  

At Deptford Cinema, the glamorous goings-on of festivals, orchestral concerts and celebrity Q&As are all indebted to the hard graft of volunteers past and present. Many of those involved today played a part in the cinema’s construction and from that a democratic system naturally emerged. Establishing the cinema gave Deptford the creative community space it so desperately needed, so people were more than willing to help out. As a result, the initial group of volunteers broadened out fairly organically with every person happy to contribute in their own way, from website design and keeping an eye on the cashflow to book donations and managing the gallery space. There truly is a something for everyone.

Deptford Cinema
Volunteers building the wooden benches for our bar/café area during one of our building days

An organisation built around consensus decision making isn’t the total nightmare a lot of people might expect it to be! What sounds like a disaster waiting to happen is the absolute opposite; the time and energy many devoted to Deptford Cinema in its humble beginnings has now paid off. Our flourishing community space is open to all, be they electricians, plumbers or arthouse cinephiles.

We hold meetings every Sunday at 11am. We realise time constraints and hangovers don’t always mean this is the best of times for everybody! But in addition, Deptford Cinema uses expertly-managed email lists, project management software and social platforms for its volunteers to collaborate online. The minutes of each meeting are easily available online to ensure everyone is as up to date as they can be and participation is as inclusive as possible, with every member able to get involved as much or as little as they want.

Deptford Cinema
Left: the best decorated bathroom in all of South London!; right: work produced at one of our life drawing events

Know your audience and get them involved

Very often members of the Deptford Cinema audience return as volunteers. It's very easy (almost too easy!) to find yourself in discussions with film distributors after being inspired by the movie goldmine that is this fairly inconspicuous corner of South London. Deptford Cinema is not just an exhibition space but a learning tool for aspiring young hopefuls to get a flavour of the film industry. It is simply a delight to discover there is a pre-existing framework ready for you to put on the director retrospective you thought you would never see. And with its space used for other activities including life drawing, art exhibitions and open mic nights, Deptford Cinema has been the genesis of creative futures beyond the film industry.

Deptford Cinema began because Lewisham was one of two London boroughs without a dedicated cinema. Finding an affordable local screening of (for example) an Andrzej Zulawski or Agnès Varda classic was next to impossible (outrageous!) and for that reason we wanted to make our tickets as cheap as possible. Without any wider affiliations or obligations Deptford Cinema has the ability to screen a range and variety of films that might not appear at other London institutions, big or small.

To ensure our audience reflects Lewisham's demographic, we offer concessionary tickets for students, pensioners and the unemployed. Due to recent financial setbacks, we had to resort to a small ticket price hike to keep the books balanced but despite this slight increase, we remain arguably the most consistently cheap cinema ticket in London. With film licenses taking up most of our budget, occasionally the lofty ideal of a full house for some Nordic noir on a wintery Monday night faces a nasty reality check and makes the cinema a loss. Although our reputation is putting Deptford on the map, we are still an awkward tube/DLR journey away from most centrally London-located film buffs, meaning that our high hopes for box office sales sometimes fall short.

Deptford Cinema
Volunteers meet in our gallery space every Sunday at 11am

Expect the unexpected

As it was built to support programming over profit, Deptford Cinema has encountered trouble in the past. The cinema nearly faced closure in June 2016 when it couldn’t pay its bills to Lewisham Council. However, community support via a 3,000 strong petition saved it from the brink.

More recently, this past summer there was an electrical fire in the flat above the cinema after which the cinema was closed for an extended period. With bills to pay and cinema-goers to entertain, breaking point felt pretty close. As a not-for-profit community organisation, our commitment to offering cheap films meant we had no reserves to call upon. Thankfully in its time of need, our volunteer network once again came to the rescue and we live on to defend our title of Cinema for All’s 2016 UK Community Cinema of the Year! However, the uncertainty of rent prices and increasingly expensive overheads means it's often difficult to stay afloat and we can’t keep relying on bar and box office sales alone, so...

Patron Scheme Deptford
Some Deptford Cinema zines - become a patron and they could be yours!

We invite everyone - whether from nearby or from further afield - to donate a small amount to keep the dream alive. Our patronage scheme is £25 a year, but donors are welcome to spend as much as they like. In return they get two tickets to a free patron-only screening every month as well as a hand-designed patronage card. The patron launch party will take place on Wednesday 15 November from 7.30pm. Local brews, sparkling beverages and tasty snacks will be served along with some sweet tunes and great movies. There will be a small presentation and an opportunity to meet the volunteers behind Deptford Cinema. Save the date!

Deptford Cinema
Our shop front on Deptford High Street

The money will primarily be spent on fire safety equipment, upgrading our electrics and making the venue more accessible for disabled audiences. If we achieve these goals, we hope to then build a dark room and fit a new cinema sound system. For a low cost, low stakes organisation, £25 really does go a long way.

Deptford Cinema’s survival is, and has always been, reliant on the generosity of the public. If you would like to join our patronage scheme, please visit http://deptfordcinema.org/become-a-patron.

How to make your cinema more inclusive with creative collaborations: FEDS 2017

Posted Thursday 28 September 2017 by Maria Cabrera in Cinema Careers, FEDS scheme, General

We spoke to Maria Cabrera, one of the most recent cohort of FEDS trainees, about her experiences at the Barbican during her traineeship and what she's learnt about the best ways to collaborate to create meaningful film experiences and reach out to new audiences. To read more about FEDS 2018, which will open for applications soon, click here.

Mi Vida Loca
Allison Anders' Mi Vida Loca, which Maria will screen at the Barbican on 10th October

Before starting my placement at the Barbican as part of FEDS the majority of my film experience came from putting on my own screenings with Reel Good Film Club, which I set up with my friends, and helping out at places such as Deptford Cinema and Scalarama, where I was encouraged to just give it a go. I found studying film studies at university tiring (something I won’t bore you with) and film programming made me excited to get a chance to put the films me and my friends chatted about, and which often were made and starred people that looked like us on a screen to share with ourselves and others.

Through trial and error and having opportunities to link up with other institutions I’ve been able to learn a lot, but I was really keen to gain insight and experience from the other side. As a big cross-arts centre, collaborations are a fundamental part of the Barbican with departments joining up on projects throughout the year and working with different artists and groups to curate spaces and events together. I’ve really enjoyed getting to experience how it all runs and to contribute to some of the amazing projects they work on.

Although grassroots and community-based independent film programming have always played a part in cinemas, collaborations between institutions and outside organisations have become a thing. From takeovers to one-off partnerships, museums, cinemas and other art venues have been keen to reach out and open their doors to the possibility of new audiences and a varied programme to match.

While here I’ve tried to soak up as much as I can, here are the notes I’ve made on working with collaborators...

Collaborations are good for your venue

I was excited to start my placement just in time for Being Ruby Rich, a film programme in collaboration between Barbican Cinema and Club des Femmes, a queer feminist collective run by some of the smartest and supportive people I know. Together with Barbican film curator Gali Gold, they put together a thrilling mix of screenings, discussions and workshops to celebrate the work of cinema activist, curator and scholar B. Ruby Rich. The event involved her flying all the way to London from California to explore the issues that drove the beginnings of her work to its relevance today. For me this was a dream programme; from pioneering De Cierta Manera by Afro-cubana Sara Gómez, shown on 35mm, to Yance Ford’s beautiful yet shattering Strong Island, recently picked up by Netflix....I could go on!

Strong Island
Yance Ford's Strong Island, screened at Barbican as part of Club Des Femmes' Being Ruby Rich

Every cinema has an expectation of who their core audience may be. What this collaborative programme showed is that an exciting programme with participatory elements can be the start to bringing a wider range of audiences into the space. Throughout the programme, surveys were handed out to audience members to assess a range of objectives. Of all the attendees, 40% said they were visiting the Barbican for the first time, with 80% of all attendees saying they were likely to come again. When it came to how people found out about the event, the majority reported that they had heard about the programme through word of mouth and… it caught the attention of people outside of London with some people traveling in just to attend. The feedback also showed that around 50% of the audience identified as LGBTQ* with 10% identifying as having a disability.

Although the programme took place in one of the hottest weeks in London, it showed how people do turn up for a fascinating programme.

How to maintain one-offs

While working here I’ve gotten involved in the running of the Barbican’s first Youth Panel, a space created to ensure the voices and ideas of young people can be heard by the rest of the centre. In one of the discussions a panellist asked, “How do we maintain what we’re doing now for the next Youth Panel?” The question of how outreach and collaborative projects shouldn’t just be temporary or worst, tokenistic, is definitely one to always think about.

Panel at Chronic Youth
Barbican's first Youth Panel, created to ensure the voices of young people are heard at the venue

Surveys such as the one mentioned for Being Ruby Rich, can also be very useful in checking out the positive outcomes as well as areas to improve on. Although the surveys highlighted some of the amazing responses from attendees, it is important to point out that niche film programmes take a great deal of effort to promote to the public. Audiences can take a long time to build so overnight success isn’t guaranteed and you should be prepared for it to take some work from you and your team.

Maintaining relationships that last is important in building a successful programme. There is nothing wrong with one-offs, it can keep your programming current, but committing to a few collaborations throughout the year with partners you trust and work well with can be a great way to not just fulfil the diversity quota but continue developing your venues’ identity and widening what’s on offer for audiences.

Where to start? Get some regional inspiration

As most people know, the film world in the UK is very London-centric and one of my favourite things about doing the scheme has been being able to visit all the venues the other FEDS work in. Although there are so many great screenings and events where I am in London (at times almost too many to actually go to) I’ve gained a lot of insight on new creative ways to get involved with local communities from the different regional venues.

Whether it’s working with a new festival in your city, or hosting a new local film club screening, there’s different ways venues are connecting with others. For example, I’m really looking forward to Showroom’s screenings in collaboration with Melanin Festival in Sheffield in October and CineQ’s screening of the much talked about Check It at Birmingham’s Centrala gallery.

Money, money, money

Things always get a bit awkward when money is involved but it’s crucial for creating your relationship with collaborators. Yes, budgets exist and can be especially tight as arts funding reduces, but taking into account the work and time your collaborator is giving to your venue or project is a great way to show that you respect and value your partnership. I have learned this is good practice when working with anyone from being on both sides of the deal; it’s best not to assume that someone is happy to work for free or not, and instead bring up the financial side of your project as soon as possible. Of course there’s always room for negotiation, but it’s always better to have a place to start. A good method that I’ve picked up at the Barbican is to calculate a standard fee for different roles and costs which is both within the means of your venue but which still pays your collaborator appropriately. For example, what can your venue or project afford to pay panelists, filmmakers or for someone to introduce an event (which they may also have to prepare for)? I’ve tried and tested this while working here and it's really useful in making communication easier and clearer.

P.S. Asking for money when you are providing a service shouldn’t be awkward.

P.P.S. Of course some people are more than happy to contribute their work for free. I’ve found that some short filmmakers are pleased to have their work seen by more audiences, but this isn’t always the case!

My screening

Because there is always space for a bit of shameless self-promotion, I will be putting what I’ve learned to practice here at the Barbican with a screening of Allison Anders’ iconic Mi Vida Loca on the 10th of October. The film will play alongside Top Girl, a film by Rebecca Johnson (Honeytrap) about two young black British girls juggling school with growing up.

Top Girl
A still from Top Girl, which will screen at the Barbican alongside Mi Vida Loca on 10th October

I put them together because not only do they explore the friendships of young women of colour but because they are both led by untrained actors, and I wanted to create a discussion around the nuances of representation on screen whilst paying tribute to the artistry of the black and brown women in the films.

Whilst programming I wanted to explore not just the role of the directors but also the labour and input of the actors who lend the experiences to the film - which I believe is what make both films special and why they resonate with me and others. As soon as Top Girl popped into my head I knew I couldn’t go ahead without reaching out to poet and writer Abondance Matanda to do an introduction as her article about the film for gal-dem last year is the reason I and others know about the film. I wanted to highlight the influence her work had on my programming decisions and the way I think about film more generally. I hope to make it a small collaboration between us and the Barbican.

Would be great to see you there! You can buy tickets for the event here.

We are the weirdos, mister: Making horror more inclusive with the Final Girls

Posted Thursday 31 August 2017 by Ellen Reay in Cinema Careers, General

Final girls carrie event

The Final Girls Carrie anniversary prom party screening at ICA (photo credit: Juan Gil)

The Final Girls is a film collective exploring the intersection between horror film and feminism, led by Anna Bogutskaya and Olivia Howe. Anna and Olivia share with us how they are making a new inclusive space for horror cinema fans and how an early morning Whatsapp conversation has taken them all the way to self-distribution.

The origin of The Final Girls couldn’t be less glamorous if we tried making it up. As WhatsApp is our main form of communication, it makes sense then that The Final Girls was born out of a manic 7am chat. We’d bonded over years of marathoning horror films and being really frustrated with some of the horror-themed events going on. We were fans, and hungry to see endless slashers, supernatural spookers and gorefests. Yet it felt like we weren’t 'the right audience' for these events, or made to feel like we were imposters for liking films that were not traditionally associated with a female audience. We love the community aspect of horror, but didn't always feel we could participate in that community.

trouble every day

The Final Girls' Trouble Every Day screening at Prince Charles Cinema

Within the span of minutes of rapidfire chatting, we had the name of the collective (The Final Girls), the film we wanted to play (Trouble Every Day), the date (Friday 13th May) and the general mission statement for what we wanted to do. This last point was important to us: to define what it is that we wanted to achieve outside of putting on a screening: exploring the intersections of horror film and feminism.

Between May 2016 until January 2017, we programmed, produced and hosted ten events including: a rare 35mm screening of Cindy Sherman’s only feature film Office Killer; a shorts screening and panel discussion on ‘the final girl’ trope at Film4 Summer Screen; an all-nighter dedicated to scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis; a preview of Prevenge in Manchester; an anniversary screening of Carrie followed by a panel discussion and a bloody prom party at the ICA. That’s probably still our favourite event (chiefly because it included a specially made yarn blood bucket and we covered the ICA floor in red glitter to simulate Carrie’s prom massacre).

The Final Girls Carrie prom night
The Final Girls Anna (left) and Olivia (right) at their Carrie anniversary prom night at ICA (photo credit: Juan Gil)

We probably did too much during those hectic first months. Aside from the preview of Prevenge, we had focused on repertory programming. We wanted to reclaim and re-contextualise genre films that been maligned or forgotten. We manouvered between arthouse horror like Trouble Every Day and Office Killer to full-blown slasher glory Inside. One of main approaches is to create an event, something that would make it more than a screening. The films were only half the job. We wanted for the audience to take away something from the screening. For Single White Female, we created Hedy/Ally facemask; for Carrie we commissioned a fortieth anniversary poster that we gave away to attendees and got Stephen King’s novel as giveaways from Hodder & Stoughton. From the very first screening, we have created dedicated zines that we give to all attendees. These are the place where we explore the film, explain what it is about it that drew us in, and play around with the film’s imagery, reappropriating and remixing it.

Slumber Party Massacre zine

The Final Girls zine for their double bill screening of The Slumber Party Massacre and The Slumber Party Massacre II at BFI

We’re not going to pretend like all of the events were raving successes.  We’ve had to face the empty cinema as much as every programmer has. However, every single event was a learning curve. We were building up steam for our next, and biggest project (so far): The Love Witch.

Aside from reappraising repertory cinema, our ambition with The Final Girls was always to build a supportive platform for new talent within the genre. With this in mind, our next logical step was to venture into the world of new releases. Before even seeing The Love Witch, we knew it was the film for us. Anna Biller is one of the most unique filmmakers out there today (and certainly one of the most hard-working). The Love Witch is a product of seven years of work from Biller, where she not only served as the director, but she also had a part in the writing, editing, costume design, musical composition and much, much more. A film like this doesn’t come around often and for something so special, we knew it needed championing.

The Love Witch Picturehouse Central

The Love Witch screening at Picturehouse Central

After speaking with Anna, we discovered the title had been picked up for UK distribution by Icon Distribution. Determined to not let this one go, we pitched our ideas to the distributor and reached an agreement. The collaboration with the distributor, Icon, was incredibly important. Without their support, this would not have been possible.

We organised a preview tour of the film, liaising directly with regional venues to pitch our ideas to them. Every single screening had to be an event. We travelled with the film to present it at the venues, and even though Anna was not able to travel for the UK release, we organised Skype Q&As with her, which we hosted. At Sheffield Showroom, we recreated the uber pink afternoon tea scene from the film in their cafe bar, serving scones and cocktails to the attendees of the screening. We created a special version of our usual ‘zines for the tour which doubled as a foldout poster and commissioned an artist (also working under the name Final Girls!) to create a set of tarot card-inspired postcards to promote the tour.

The Love Witch tea party at Sheffield Showroom

The Love Witch tea party at Sheffield Showroom

The Love Witch tour was bookended by two London screenings: the first one, at the Prince Charles Cinema, was sold out weeks in advance; and ended as part of Picturehouses’ Discover Tuesdays strand, which started off in a small screen and kept getting bumped up until we had 300 people in their biggest screen, and welcomed one of the actresses from the film, Laura Waddell, for an introduction. After The Love Witch tour was over, and with the film in cinemas, on Blu-ray/DVD and VOD, the interest in Anna’s work was bigger than ever. As a result, we put on an event in the newly opened The Castle Cinema screening her early short films on her own 16mm prints. We put on the event in partnership with MUBI, an online platform that has been hugely supportive of our mad ideas since the beginning, and at the time were playing Anna’s first feature Viva.

Single White Female masks

The Final Girls, incognito as Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda in Single White Female

And now we’re back at it again. Part of our vision for The Final Girls is championing new voices in genre filmmaking, so for Halloween this year we’ve planned a showcase tour of some of our favourite new horror shorts, all of which are directed by women. We opened a call for submissions in May, received over 1,000 short films from all over the world. From that process, and actively scouring festival programmes and the web for intriguing shorts, have curated a selection of ten short films that we’ve (quite tellingly) named: WE ARE THE WEIRDOS.

This programme is our first venture into self-distributing the work of filmmakers we love. It’s a mission statement, as we’re working to create a space for feminist horror, show the films we’re passionate about, and attempt to eliminate some of the arthouse snobbery around genre cinema.

The Final Girls programme of the most exciting new female voices in genre cinema We Are the Weirdos is coming to cinemas for Halloween. If you would like to screen We Are the Weirdos in your local cinema, get in touch with The Final Girls on hello@thefinalgirls.co.uk. To find out more about the project, click here. 

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